To work toward being stewards of a more sustainable world, the Mythcon 52 Organizing Committee has chosen to promote digital materials and print only a few hard copy versions of our program book that will be for sale during the conference. Paper, ink, printing press machinery, and other resources involved in producing materials we can hold in our hands damage the world around us. As much as we love physical items for their representations of experiences, our Mythcon 52 organizers think many of the authors we love and admire would appreciate our desire to reduce our environmental impact on the world around us and preserve resources so that future generations can continue to take part in Mythcons. Since we recognize that some attendees may be less able to navigate digital versions of materials, we will have committee members and volunteers available at the Registration table willing to assist attendees who want to use our free digital materials throughout Mythcon 52 and help us be better stewards of the natural world.

Schedule

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2022
Friday, July 29th
2:00 PM

'Long Dark Hair in Great Plaits Braided with Gold': Black Fingon and Racebending in Transformative Tolkien Fanworks

Megan Abrahamson
Maria K. Alberto

Albuquerque, NM

2:00 PM - 2:50 PM

Tolkien fandom has often pointed to “diversity” in Middle-earth, but this term has long been limited to dwarves and elves and hobbits coexisting. The vast majority of fan art produced of Tolkien’s works in the past 75 years has featured fictional races all with fair skin and white features. That seemed to change on Tumblr in 2013, when fans created fan art and edits that cast Black model Cykeem White as the “face claim” for Fingon the Valiant, the Elven prince who becomes High King of the Noldor in Beleriand. The selection became relatively popular on the platform, picking up thousands of notes in a fairly small fandom and continuing to circulate and inspire other fanworks through to the present day. Between Fingon’s single physical description in The Shibboleth of Fëanor, where it is said that he “wore his long dark hair in great plaits braided with gold,” and the relative visibility of some early fan-creators, Fingon has become one of the Silmarillion characters most often and extensively portrayed as Black. the impetuses perpetuating this “fanon” (an interpretation widely held by fans but with little or no basis in the canon) are worth situating in the context of other popular fantasy racebends such as Black Hermione, and within the wider Tolkien fandom as a new axis of “diverse” representations. In an update from the version of this paper Megan shared at Mythcon 51, our study has surveyed fan artists to explore the reasons why transformative fans have latched onto the representation of Fingon as Black at much higher rates than any other Silmarillion character: showcasing this data will be the bulk of this presentation. We also look at some of the limitations and issues that come with this practice. The Silmarillion elides even the barest visual descriptions of characters while also quickly covering thousands of years’ worth of histories that regularly feature imperialism, colonialism, and even genocide without ever going into much detail about their perpetrators, victims, and aftermaths in ways that further complicate any racebending. This chapter will work to situate Black Fingon in his fannish contexts as expressed on Tumblr, and also to explore some of the criticism this depiction has faced, both from those who claim that all elves are or should be white and also from those who note that a single headcanon of Blackness is not enough to address racism endemic in certain spaces and genres—and fandoms.

3:00 PM

"The Rings of Power" Book Club (Part 1): Seduction, Knowledge, and Metallurgy in the Second Age of Middle-earth

Tim Lenz
Alicia Fox-Lenz
Grace Moon
Pablo Guss

Albuquerque, NM

3:00 PM - 3:50 PM

The upcoming Amazon-produced streaming series The Rings of Power represents the most expensive adaptation of Tolkien’s Middle-earth to date, and will explore the Second Age, of which Tolkien wrote relatively little. This adaptation has generated massive buzz, both positive and negative, prior to its airing, often centered around issues of race, gender, and diversity. Over the past 5 months, a group of Mythies have gathered periodically on the Mythopoeic Society’s Discord server to pore over Tolkien’s meager writings about the Second Age, and how this material could be adapted into a live action streaming series. We will revisit some of the recurring themes from our book club meetings; Which Second Age elements and characters likely will/will not be portrayed, depictions of race/culture/religion, origins of histories, descriptions of Sauron’s influence in Numenor, and more.

4:00 PM

"The Rings of Power" Book Club (Part 2): Open Discussion on ‘The Peoples of Middle-earth: Tar-Elmar'

Tim Lenz
Alicia Fox-Lenz
Grace Moone
Pablo Guss

Albuquerque, NM

4:00 PM - 4:50 PM

Participate in or spectate a hybrid in-person/online MythCon edition of ‘The Rings of Power Book Club,’ where we discuss excerpts from Tolkien’s writings on the Second Age of Middle-earth, and how they could relate to the upcoming Amazon streaming series. We will be discussing the following passage: The History of Middle-earth XII: The Peoples of Middle-earth: Tar-Elmar (422-427).

Saturday, July 30th
9:00 AM

Welcome to Mythcon!

Megan Abrahamson
Leslie Donovan

Albuquerque, NM

9:00 AM - 9:30 AM

Mythcon 52 Opening Ceremonies presented by Megan Abrahamson and Leslie Donovan.

9:30 AM

Graduation Ceremonies

Leslie Donovan
Bruce Leonard

Albuquerque, NM

9:30 AM - 9:50 AM

Due to the pandemic, many students around the world did not get to attend their own respective graduation ceremonies. MythSoc provided those present a chance to have a real graduation amongst fellows and peers.

10:00 AM

Scholar GOH David Bratman Speech

David Bratman

Albuquerque, New Mexico

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Scholar Guest of Honor David Bratman gives his speech during the opening ceremonies of Mythcon 52 in Albuquerque, New Mexico on July 30th, 2022.


A section of frozen video and no audio was removed from the recording at 0:30:53 of about 30 seconds.

11:00 AM

The Space Alien as a Multitude in Latinx Science Fiction

Matthew Goodwin

Albuquerque, NM

11:00 AM - 11:50 AM

One of the central claims of my book The Latinx Files: Race, Migration, and Space Aliens, is that the cultural figure of the space alien is more fruitfully conceived of as a Multitude rather than an Other. The space alien framed as Other may be helpful in critiquing Anglo-American works of science fiction, but it is less useful when it comes to the space alien in Latinx science fiction. This essay will examine a number of works of Latinx science fiction to draw out the details of this claim. I will begin by pointing to the multiplicity of allegories and migrations in the comics of Lalo Alcaraz and the short story “Room for Rent” by Richie Narvaez. Next I will examine Tato Laviera’s poem “Puerto Rico’s Chupacabras,” which uses depictions of the Chupacabras, both fictional and real, to express various political, philosophical, and cultural perspectives about being Puerto Rican. Finally, I will examine Gloria Anzaldúa’s use of the space alien as a central metaphor, and in particular, her concept of the alien consciousness, a way of being that is tolerant of ambiguity, contradiction, and perplexity, and that does not think dualistically but rather embraces multiplicity. The essay ends by investigating the political ramifications of the embodiment of the alien consciousness in Latinx science fiction and the further effects of thinking of the space alien as a Multitude.

2:00 PM

Encanto Discussion

Berni Phillips Bratman
Lynn Maudlin

Albuquerque, NM

2:00 PM - 2:50 PM

"The most precious of all things is life itself – ultimate cost for perfect value”: The Alien and the Struggle of Life and Death in Starship Troopers

Christopher J V Loughlin

Albuquerque, NM

2:00 PM - 2:50 PM

This paper will consider Hegelian and post-Hegelian discussion of the struggle of life and death in relationship to Starship Troopers. Robert Heinlein wrote Starship Troopers in 1959 and it has been interpreted as a right-wing, “fascist,” and Greco- Roman-inspired discussion of citizen-soldiership. At the centre of Heinlein’s work lies an explicit political and civil morality: there are many human bodies, but only some that have earned full political citizenship by staking their life in military service. But what significance does the Other have in Heinlein’s book? Why is the Other destroyed, occupied, alienated? How does this struggle form the basis of subjectivation? This paper will consider how we can interpret the Other, the alien, on the basis of Hegelian and post-Hegelian discussion of the struggle of life and death. It will utilize Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, and Hegel to interpret the struggle for life and death in Heinlein’s work and the Film interpretation by Paul Verhoeven (1997). This struggle is a central pivot of Hegel’s social ontology: selfconsciousness exists only through an explicit staking of life and struggle (the famous dialectic of Lord and Bondsman, or Mastery and Servitude as interpreted by Kojève). Further, Foucault—in his attempt to escape dialectics and Hegel— utilized the struggle over life and death, and war, as the basis for power and subjectivation.

3:00 PM

"Something Which Ought to be Done When All Else Fails”: The Experiential Education of Arthur in The Once and Future King

Anne Acker, Tusculum University

Albuquerque, NM

3:00 PM - 3:50 PM

Critical attention to T. H. White’s The Once and Future King, particularly the book’s description of Arthur’s education, has necessarily focused on the political themes in the book. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, some critics have found those themes outdated, a relic of the bloody wars of the 20th century. In the third decade of the 21st century, it has become apparent that while fascism and Stalinism went away, they did not go far. The tendencies and tensions within society that made them possible before confronting us once again. With this in mind, it may be helpful to revisit White’s work, not so much for the political commentary as for the education described there, to understand how transformation might be read as a metaphor for pedagogy. This paper will focus on the First book, The Sword in the Stone. While criticism has tended to focus on how different animals featured in the narrative serve as parables or even satire, I contend that there is an underlying humanism in the story. While Arthur learns from the animals he becomes, the ultimate gain in each adventure comes from inhabiting and then transcending the instincts of each animal. The transformations are challenges, and Arthur succeeds by acting humanly at critical moments. The anthropomorphized animals disguise this lesson, so that the reader is not always aware that they are being confronted at every turn with the question of what it means to be human. As with nearly all versions of Arthurian legend, The Once and Future King is ultimately more fatalistic than idealistic, and this represents White’s cynical view of the relationships that form between individuals and the institutions that govern them.

Writing Mythopoeia for Social Justice

Rivera Sun

Albuquerque, NM

3:00 PM - 3:50 PM

From the Binti Trilogy to Broken Earth to Fifth Sacred Thing to some of the solutionary cli-fi short stories, contemporary writers have provided many powerful examples for exploring issues of social justice. In this workshop, our Author Guest of Honor will use writing prompts and activities to lead attendees to explore how mythopoeic writing can change how we think about our world and others around us in powerful and positive ways. Whether you are a writer yourself or a reader eager to encourage better futures for us all, join us in this fun and interactive workshop.

4:00 PM

Mythcon Memories

Lynne Maudlin
David Bratman
Lee Speth

Albuquerque, NM

4:00 PM - 4:50 PM

Come hear long-time Mythies Lee Speth, David Bratman, and Lynn Maudlin talk about 50+ years of Mythcons past, conference memories (and hijinks!) from a pre-pandemic world.

Sunday, July 31st
10:00 AM

“Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we?” The Disorienting Phenomenology of N. K. Jemisin’s The Stone Sky

Robin Anne Reid

Albuquerque, NM

10:00 AM - 10:50 AM

N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy made history: each novel won the Best Hugo for Novel (2016-2017-2018). Jemisin is not only the First person to win the novel award three years running, but also the First Black person and the First woman of color to win the novel award. Sony Entertainment purchased the series for adaptation in 2018 (Fleming), and Jemisin will be adapting her series for Film. The Fifth Season has an epic structure (beginning in media res, a quest, world-changing events and characters, and supernatural forces). Given the conventions of the epic genre, my interest in this presentation is how the phenomenological style of Jemisin’s multiple narrative voices, including the use of one second-person and direct address narrator, which intersects with the narrative arc of the female protagonist, a mother, whose epic quest is to save her daughter, subverts reader expectations. My approach, like my earlier publication on Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy (Reid), blends linguistics and phenomenology. I use M. A. K. Halliday’s functional grammar to analyze clauses in selected passages (the opening paragraphs of the Prologue and twenty-three chapters in the novel). Phenomenology is the branch of philosophy that focuses on “structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view” (Stanford). Phenomenological literary studies “regard[s] works of art as mediators between the consciousnesses of the author and the reader or as attempts to disclose aspects of the being of humans and their worlds” (Armstrong). My analysis is informed by Sara Ahmed’s concept of disorientation developed in Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others:

When we are orientated, we might not even notice that we are orientated: we might not even think “to think” about this point. When we experience disorientation, we might notice orientation as something we do not have. After all, concepts often reveal themselves as things to think “with” when they fail to be translated into being or action. (Ahmed, 5-6)

Ahmed defines queer phenomenology is that which “disorients” the reader, specifically, she defines as “bodily experiences that throw the world up, or throw the body from its ground. Disorientation as a bodily feeling can be unsettling, and it can shatter one’s sense of confidence in the ground” (157). I would argue a trilogy that begins with the implication and claim that “the end of the world” is not the most interesting part of the story, in a Prologue subtitled, “you are here” will disorient the majority of readers, and that disorientation is only the start of Jemisin’s disorienting phenomenology.

The Environmental Bioethics of Space Travel: ‘Alien’ Bodies in C. S. Lewis’ Cosmic Trilogy

Journee Cotton

Albuquerque, NM

10:00 AM - 10:50 AM

C. S. Lewis lived through numerous significant historic events. Notably, he was alive during the space race and spoke to the potential philosophical and ethical dilemmas that may arise through space travel, especially concerning contact with ‘alien’ life. While the idea may be found in other parts of his oeuvre, Lewis explicitly considers space travel and contact with aliens in The Cosmic Trilogy. His texts offer unique perspectives on space travel that is not centric to the earth-born ‘human,’ rather it notes man’s destructive attitudes towards progress and the potential harms man may enact on other sentient beings and environments without a proper ethical framework in place. This paper seeks to introduce reading bodies at the intersection of the ‘alien’ and environmental bioethics due to their shared consideration of bodies fraught with ethical dilemmas. In Lewis’ Cosmic Trilogy the body appears to symbiotically relate to the environment: unnatural, ‘evil’ bodies exist in polluted and degenerated environments, while the reverse holds true as well. Throughout the series, the bodies of Weston and Devine are situated as ‘alien’, ‘evil’, and ‘corrupted’. For instance, in Out of the Silent Planet rather than the Martians, the men Weston and Devine attempt to wreak havoc and destruction throughout Mars due to their colonial endeavours. Their attitudes are juxtaposed by the symbiotic nature of the ‘alien’ ‘Hnau’ (sentient beings) of Malacandra (Mars). The text clarifies that through an ethical framework the ‘Hnau’ retain balance through the symbiotic space inhabited by the ‘uncorrupted’ beings contrasted by the devastated landscape where unethical beings once lived. Thus, bodies are presented as the incarnate evidence of beings functioning or existing ‘un-bioethically’ in the environment. Furthermore, in Perelandra, Weston’s ‘corrupted’ body is possessed and attempts to harm the ethical and ecological balance of Venus, which ultimately culminates in the destruction of his body due to bioethical err. In the final book of the series, That Hideous Strength, Devine is engaged in the N.I.C.E.’s plot against all bodies including the ‘alien,’ human, animal, and earth that means to ‘cleanse’ the world of their organic matter. This paper shall provide an environmental bioethical examination of the ‘alien’ figures in The Cosmic Trilogy and draw insights therein.

11:00 AM

“Crossings in Mist”: Kantian transformations in The Lathe of Heaven

Daniel Viorica

Albuquerque, NM

11:00 AM - 11:50 AM

A theme for this year’s Mythcon is ‘The Alien’; there is perhaps nothing more alien to contemporary science fiction and fantasy discourse than Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant. He represents much of what today’s fantasy, especially under the influence of Ursula K. Le Guin, opposes: a human-privileged universe predicated on rational control. But I argue that a Kantian reading of a scene in Le Guin’s novel The Lathe of Heaven can in fact enrich our understanding of Le Guin’s noted Taoist themes of action and inaction, complicating the preexisting scholarly consensus that the novel provides a straightforward critique of Western culture. In the scene in question, the novel’s antagonist Dr. William Haber confronts protagonist George Orr with Kantian language. Scholars Betsy Huang and Lewis Call have argued that Orr’s rebuttal is Taoist in nature, reflecting Le Guin’s philosophical preference for Taoism in opposition to Western rationality. But none have noted that Orr rebuts Haber’s arguments on Kantian terms as well as on Taoist terms; his Kantian language bleeds into Taoist language. Le Guin’s project, instead of rejecting a Kantian worldview altogether, decenters Kantian ethics from its sole focus on human rationality. In doing so, Le Guin draws a connection between Kantian ethics and Taoism, years before such a connection was explored in mainstream philosophical discourse.

ET Phone Camelot: Alien Life Forms in Arthurian Fiction

Michael Torregrossa

Albuquerque, NM

11:00 AM - 11:50 AM

As a living tradition, the Matter of Britain displays a voracious appetite as it grows over the centuries, absorbing characters, legends, motifs, stories, and even genres to create new Arthurian narratives. Science fiction is one genre that has recently found a place within the Arthurian tradition. Inspired by Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, tales abound of time travelers journeying to Arthur’s realm, but a smaller, less well-known subset of Arthurianthemed science fiction brings various extraterrestrial creatures to Camelot. Sometimes, these beings are hostile, but, more often, they try to make the realm a better place. Most of these stories connect to and transform the figure of Merlin and those he interacts with, like the Lady of the Lake and Morgan le Fay, by recasting them as aliens. This presentation will highlight some of these developments as depicted on television and in fiction from the 1970s with Space: 1999 up through the early 2000s with the Stargate franchise.

New Mexico Speculative Fiction Authors

Leslie Donovan
David Bratman
Jessica Dickinson Goodman
Grace Moon
Rivera Sun
Joseph Young

Albuquerque, NM

11:00 AM - 11:50 AM

New Mexico is not only a place of many enchanting sunsets and landscapes, but also home to many authors of speculative fiction. Join us in this roundtable as we discuss and introduce a few works of fantasy and science fiction by New Mexico-linked writers that our roundtable members have found particularly interesting, enjoyable, or mythopoeic. Just a few New Mexico speculative fiction writers you may have heard of are Roger Zelazny, George R. R. Martin, Diana Gabaldon, Suzy McKee Charnas, James S. A. Corey, Stephen R. Donaldson, Rebecca Roanhorse, Daniel Abraham, Fred Saberhagen, Walter Jon Williams, Melinda Snodgrass, S. M. Sterling, Jane Lindskold, Sheri S. Tepper, and of course Rivera Sun (our Mythcon Guest of Honor). While we will not have time to discuss all those listed, we will lead what we expect to be a lively, interactive discussion with attendees about the mythopoeic riches New Mexico authors offer.

2:00 PM

Common Elements in YA Mythic Portal Fantasies

Sultana Raza

Albuquerque, NM

2:00 PM - 2:50 PM

While Tolkien was inspired by Norse and Anglo-Saxon myths, he incorporated certain plot structures from Greco- Roman myths in Beren and Lúthien and Fall of Gondolin. Contemporary authors continue to be inspired by myths as well. This paper will explore mythic YA fantasy, and common elements mainly in the works of Rick Riordan, Michael Scott, Eoin Colfer, and Cassandra Clare, all of whom use portals to enable their main characters to enter parallel universes. Riordan often uses museums/artefacts as portals to fantastical dimensions. His Percy Jackson series, the Heroes of Olympus series, and the Kane Chronicles are well-researched, while the dry sense of humour, well-paced plots and fantastical action sequences keep his young readers spell-bound. Older readers can find his in-depth research and the fact that the Greek gods tend to stick to certain archetypal characteristics (even though they’ve been dragged to the modern world) to be interesting. The main pre-occupation of the female protagonist (Helen Hamilton) in Josephine Angelini’s Star-crossed series is romance, even though she literally has to go through hell to fulfill her destiny. For example, in The Hunt of the Unicorn (2011) by C. C. Humphreys, the Unicorn tapestries in Cloisters in New York act as a portal, providing passage to another world. In his Artemis Fowl series, Eoin Colfer focuses on Celtic lore, certain elements of which can be discerned in Tolkien’s works as well. C.S. Lewis was inspired by Christian myths, and Cassandra Clare’s YA Shadowhunter series seems to be derived from Biblical myths (complete with angels and Archangels). Though focused around Flamel, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott combines features/personages from various myths. Since the young main characters aren’t familiar with myths, their encounter with gods and monsters from these worlds are akin to interacting with aliens. They end up learning the rules of these new societies and the functioning of magical systems or implements quite painfully. Authors building half of their stories from myths already have well-established godly/mythic characters and worlds to play with. Hopping in and out of these shadowy worlds through various portals is another characteristic of these novels. Most of the authors try to anchor these parallel universes in certain spots in the real world, so as to give their readers a sense of excitement that these mythic worlds are not that far from their everyday existence. It’s also interesting to explore which landmarks or buildings, cities, or places in the USA or Europe have been conflated with portals or entry points to these hidden worlds. Issues that modern teens face, such as being raised by a single parent, how to deal with violence or bullying, or budding romances with an ethnically different person are dealt with obliquely in these novels. Though they’re meant for Young Adults, older readers interested in the different ways old myths are recycled or twisted can enjoy reading them too. Especially if they’re interested in exploring how well the archetypes of gods/monsters are handled in these modern takes.

Reading by Jo Walton

Jo Walton

Albuquerque, NM

2:00 PM - 2:50 PM

Award-winning author and Mythopoeic Fantasy Award finalist Jo Walton will read from her works and answer questions from the audience.

3:00 PM

Aliens and Others in the Inklings

David Bratman
Janet Brennan Croft
Robin Anne Reid
John Rosegrant

Albuquerque, NM

3:00 PM - 3:50 PM

David Bratman, Janet Brennan Croft, Robin Reid, and John Rosegrant discuss the alien and the Other in the works of the Inklings, with time for audience conversation.

4:00 PM

“Strange Faces, Other Minds” Tennyson’s Idylls of the King and the Alien Other

Rebecca Umland

Albuquerque, NM

4:00 PM - 4:50 PM

Encounters with the alien other commonly conjure images from science fiction film and literature—advanced spacecraft, alien species in human form from remote places of the galaxy, or in alternate places either in the subterranean realms or on the planet Earth. Varied as they are, a ubiquitous quality of strangeness accompanies these encounters, from those in nineteenth-century writers like Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, through early 20th-century Lovecraft narratives, and in contemporary fiction and film. A writer who may not come immediately to mind is Alfred Lord Tennyson, the poet laureate of England from 1850 until his death in 1892. Tennyson was a visionary poet, a writer who seemed to intuit that the nineteenth century represented a liminal space between a remote, nostalgic past and a future of both undetermined marvels and menaces. Steeped in Celtic lore and intent on composing an epic on the Arthurian Legend, Tennyson also foresaw future space flight, and perhaps also a time in which the world might achieve perfection. This paper focuses on the idea of King Arthur as an alien other in Tennyson’s epic poem, Idylls of the King, twelve poems first published serially between 1859–1885 and finally as an epic work in its current form. In the first idyll, “The Coming of the King,” one version of Arthur’s origin is mythopoeic—he is “sent” and not born on “a night when the bounds of heaven and earth were lost,” (l. 371) delivered to shore on the ninth wave, from a sky ship “bright with a shining people on the decks” (l. 375). In the final idyll, “The Passing of Arthur,” the moribund king boards a ship inhabited by three weeping queens while one sole survivor of Camelot, Bedivere, mourns this loss and anticipates his own alienation: “And I, the last, go forth companionless, / And the days darken round me, and the years, / Among new men, strange faces, other minds” (ll. 404-406). As Arthur’s vessel receded into the horizon, “from the great deep to the great deep he goes” (l. 443), Bedivere heard “faint / As beyond the limit of the world, / . . . Sounds, as if some fair city were one voice / Around a king returning from his wars” (ll. 456-461). “Born before his time” Arthur is a visionary artist, a bringer of the light, different not only in degree but possibly also in kind to other men, as several passages in the Idylls show. What is unusual about the portrayal of the alien other in Tennyson’s text is its medieval setting, the origin and fate of its hero, Arthur, and the strange twilight alienation of Bedivere, his companion. Tennyson was a poet who saw both “fore and aft.” Early in his career, he anticipated aircraft travel in “Locksley Hall” (1842); moreover, the strange, almost nihilistic attitude of belatedness expressed by Bedivere in the final idyll is anticipated by that of Ulysses’ men in “The Lotos- Eaters” (1832-1833)—a feeling often expressed in texts of the alien other.

7:00 PM

Author GOH Rivera Sun Speech

Rivera Sun

Albuquerque, NM

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Author GOH Rivera Sun gives her speech during the banquet ceremonies of Mythcon 52 in Albuquerque, NM on July 31st, 2022.